Thursday, October 9, 2014

BMC: Automating/Optimizing Mainframe Operations and License Management

One of the real strengths of applied computer technology lies in its ability to automate repetitive, intensively detailed, multi-factor operations. This is especially when the tasks follow a set of highly structured set of rules that while involving many factors are applied in a consistent manner.
Software licensing costs have long been a major bug-a-boo and attack points involving mainframe operations. For a variety of some aging but fully understandable reasons, mining the costs of running software on mainframes for savings has been a risky task. Not just because it is incredibly involved, error prone and time consuming, but also due to the potential of significantly upset clients (if service performance is degraded) or savings of sufficient magnitude are not realized. Both of which have resulted in past efforts. As a result, it is also one that has frequently been avoided or received cursory attention.
There have been multiple attempts at manual processes to manage costs and optimize operations. Typically resource intensive and, while effective, too often tied up scarce resources whose efforts could be more profitably applied at other tasks. And, BMC, IBM, CA and other vendors have offered a variety of products that poked at the challenge of managing MLC and associated mainframe software licensing costs.
We’ve examined various solutions offered by BMC and found them quite interesting. Examples of successful earlier products (such as BMC Application Accelerator for IMS™[1] BMC Capacity Optimization TrueSight Capacity Optimizer for Mainframes[2], and BMC Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise®[3], etc.) to lower the cost of software, raise and optimize the level of mainframe and lpar utilization in the data center while protecting SLAs and protecting critical services. BMC describes the potential cost and operations savings ranging from 2% to 30% from using these products.
Which is why we are very pleased to hear about BMC’s most recent solution offerings that complement these existing products, representing a comprehensive and integrated approach to mainframe software cost and operations management. Building on today’s operating environment with more data, abundant processing power, enhanced understanding of and sophisticated capabilities for integrated, end-to-end data analytics in policy-based process operation, BMC is offering more sophisticated, automated programs to tackle the problem of MLC management and mainframe systems optimization.
Recently announced by BMC were two products, one (BMC Intelligent Capping for zEnterprise®[4]) directed at dynamic, intelligent capacity management for workloads that protects critical service SLAs. The second offering (BMC Subsystem Optimizer for zEnterprise®[5]) optimizes LPAR subsystem operations by removing constraints on placement of DB2, IMS, and CICS. Here’s a thumbnail of each product’s unique benefits.
BMC Intelligent Capping (iCap) uniquely provides:
  • Monitors and dynamically manages defined capacity settings across LPARs and Capacity Groups
  • Uses customer policies and workload priorities for decision making 
  • Recaptures unused capacity – matching increases in caps with decreases
  • Helps customers implement changes that are identified in BMC Cost Analyzer reports.
BMC Subsystem Optimizer for zEnterprise (Subzero) uniquely:
  • Overcomes the technical requirement that subsystems must reside on the same LPAR
  • Requires no application changes
  • Operates transparently with DB2, IMS, CICS, and applications
  • Provides failover capability for DB2 and IMS (nonexistent today)
  • Provides logical next step for taking action based on BMC Cost Analyzer analysis.
Today’s competitive pressures tend to squeeze margins, increasing the value of efforts that optimize costs. Add to these incredibly aggressive and innovative competitors who are willing to buy entry into new markets and a managerial (financial and operational) intolerance for over-engineered, under-utilized infrastructure. IT is heavily squeezed. These solutions deserve the attention of mainframe data center operations managers and financial managers who are seriously interested in improving their operational bottom line. You can also see these in action October 13-16, at BMC’s Engage 2014[6] event in Orlando, FL.